Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Achala (Buddhist Deity) - Blue, Standing

མི་གཡོ་བ། 不动明王(梵名:阿遮罗)
(item no. 594)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1000 - 1099
Lineages Kadam
Size 17.15x35.56cm (6.75x14in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Shelley & Donald Rubin
Catalogue # acc.# P1996.20.30
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Wrathful

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Arya Achala (Tibetan: phag pa mi yo wa, English: Noble Immovable One): wrathful tutelary deity and remover of obstacles. The standing form of the deity was popularized by Jowo Atisha in the 11th century. Achala, in this form, is commonly grouped with three other figures and collectively they are known as the Kadam Lha Shi - The Four Deities of the Kadampa. (See the Achala Main Page and Outline).

"Arya Achala has a body dark blue in colour with one face and two hands. The right hand holds aloft a sword and the left performs the wrathful gesture at the heart. Above a lotus and sun seat [he] stands with the right leg bent and the left straight [atop] Vighnanraja [Lord of Hindrances - the elephant headed Ganesh]. Wearing a lower garment of tiger skin, having three eyes, red and round, orange hair flowing upward, all the limbs adorned with snakes, [he] stands in the middle of a blazing mass of fire." (The Narthang Gyatsa of Chim Namka Drag).

The snakes appear as gold bands and the hair as yellow. Draped over the shoulders is a thin yellow scarf and looped over the left shoulder a large green snake serves in place of a Brahmin's cord. A three-pointed crown and hair ribbons decorate the head along with a yellow goatee and moustache. The earrings are in the shape of large bone plugs in the style of Kanphat yogis. The left hand in a wrathful gesture also holds a vajra tipped lasso. The tiger skin is fastened with a green sash. Completely enveloped by orange flame the right foot presses on the elephant head of Ganapati.

White in colour with one face, Ganapati has two eyes and two hands, black hair and a gold crown. The right arm cradles the head. He is without hand objects and wears a tiger skin as a lower garment. The forehead is marked with a tilika, Hindu sect marker, and the trunk is painted red in honour of the god Shiva. The seat is an orange sun disc atop a multi-coloured lotus blossom rising above a stylized stem with four branching red buds. A Tibetan letter RAM is written at the lower left side. Decorating the top is a latticework of gold lines and drops of red lotus buds.

Arya Achala was a very popular deity in the early period of the Sarma Schools, 11th to 13th centuries. The single aspect arose predominantly from the Siddhaikavira Tantra of White Manjushri. As an Anuttarayoga deity, arising from the Canadamaharoshana Tantra and several others, he is often portrayed embracing a consort in a complex mandala surrounded by a retinue of deities.

Jeff Watt 1-99

'Delivering Threats, Threatening Deliverance: Forms and Functions in Indo-Tibetan Esoteric Buddhist Wrathful Deities, Part One.' Rob Linrothe. Oriental Art, Vol XLVI No. 2.

Wrathful Deities In Early Indo-Tibetan Esoteric Buddhist Art. Rob Linrothe. London: Serindia Publications, 1999.

Front of Painting
English Translation of Inscription: ram.

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